Sharing Film with Friends

I’ve never had much love for social media. Mostly, I regard it as a semi-necessary evil, and it’s likely that I spend far less time exposed to it than the average account holder. However, in fairness, social media does have its constructive uses, and there have indeed been some bright spots during my time online; most notably, finding new friends with similar passions.

It was about six or so years ago that I started meeting many talented photographers who still shoot with 35mm film. And going beyond conventional photography, I was introduced to a variety of experimental techniques, and to the community of photographers who engage in international film swapping, sometimes referred to as “one film, two cameras”—shoot a roll, rewind it to the beginning, then mail the roll to a faraway friend who shoots the second pass. (For the team approach to double exposures, please remember to rewind carefully and leave the leader protruding so your friend can load the film. Also, don’t forget to double your camera’s ISO setting so each of you are providing half of the light needed for a proper exposure.)

A good deal of the fun comes from the fact that the final results are left to blind luck; we don’t coordinate our shooting locations or subject matter ahead of time. Sure, some frames don’t amount to much, but many others yield wonderful surprises. My favorite collaboration partner in this pursuit is Australian photographer John Baxter Weekes. The photo above and the next two below, we shot on Adox Silvermax 100 film…

The next three frames come from a shared roll of Kodak Ektar 100 film…

These three were captured on Kodak Tri-X film…

Of course, there’s no rule that says you have to limit yourself to double exposures. Here are a few frames from our quadruple exposure exercise; each of us shooting two passes on this roll of Fuji Velvia film…

A sample from our roll of Rollei Ortho 25 film…

Another film swap friend of mine is Walter von Aachen of Germany. Walter has a fondness for shooting with lesser-known 35mm films; here’s an image we created on Rollei Redbird 400, a redscale color negative film…

But there’s more to Walter’s work than double exposures. The mad scientist in him loves playing with “souped” films, where rolls of unexposed film are soaked in various beverages and other liquids, then slowly dried over several weeks at very low heat. As you can imagine, many labs don’t want to process film that has been treated in this way, so Walter does his own developing. Below are two frames that I shot on a roll of his color film (Kodak Gold 200, as I recall) that was pre-treated with vodka…

And these three shots were captured with Walter’s famous “Kaffee Kodak” coffee-soaked film…

If you’d like to participate in this sort of thing, check your favorite social media platform for tags related to souped films and film swapping. Enjoy!

 

At Home

Step inside this house, girl
I’ll sing for you a song
I’ll tell you ’bout just where I’ve been
It shouldn’t take too long
I’ll show you all the things that I own
My treasures, you might say
Couldn’t be more than ten dollars’ worth
They brighten up my day

“Step Inside This House”
Written by Guy Clark
Performed by Lyle Lovett

Home Away From Home

October’s road trip found me once again right in the center of Colorado at one of my favorite spots in the West—the Buffalo Peaks Ranch, home to the Rocky Mountain Land Library.

As in 2019, I camped at the ranch in the cold, thin air; this time, pitching my tent next to the Middle Fork South Platte River, just below the beaver dam…

My favorite part of any photo taken at the ranch is the long, flowing beauty of Reinecker Ridge, glowing here in the last rays of the day’s sunshine; black cows in the distance, grazing at the base of the ridge…

Valley in the morning light…

Cows beneath a passing cloud…

(Kodak Plus-X 125 35mm film)

 

The ridge makes an imposing backdrop for the distant barns…

(Kodak Plus-X 125 35mm film)

 

Beautifully aged wood…

(Kodak Ektar 100 35mm film)

 

The last few tufts of October’s green grass…

(Kodak Ektar 100 35mm film)

 

Old treasure glowing in the sun…

(Kodak Ektar 100 35mm film)

 

More interesting artifacts, found by Ann…

Ann and Jeff, the dreamers who have worked so hard for many years to bring the Land Library to life. It was so nice to see them once again, and to spend my last few hours in South Park talking about the past and the future of the Buffalo Peaks Ranch…

Hey, it’s a library, so I took some time out to read on the front porch…

(The book? Flatland.)

You can read about the Rocky Mountain Land Library, get involved and show your support, all through this link. And check out the thousands of wonderful titles on the library’s shelves by viewing the many RMLL posts on Instagram.

 

The Ecstasy of Gold

(…addendum to last month’s post,Soundtrack“)

Composer John Zorn penned a tribute in The New York Times this week to the great Ennio Morricone, who passed away on Monday at the age of 91. Here is Zorn’s opening paragraph:

Ennio Morricone was more than one of the world’s great soundtrack composers—he was one of the world’s great composers, period. For me, his work stands with Bach, Mozart, Debussy, Ellington and Stravinsky in achieving that rare fusion of heart and mind. Dare we compare the five notes of his famous “coyote call” in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with the four opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony? Morricone’s music is just as timeless.

I certainly agree. And those of you who know me understand that I am far from qualified to offer appraisals of orchestral music, which comprises a very tiny portion of my library. Nor am I any kind of an expert on film, having watched far fewer movies in my lifetime than the average citizen. But I do know what works for me.

I’ve always found the Westerns of Sergio Leone to be quite absorbing…in a manner that I have not experienced with other films. I believe that Morricone’s soundtrack is the magical ingredient responsible. Leone’s visuals are striking, and their marriage with the Maestro’s music creates a chemistry that draws my full attention to the screen. There are moments in these films that hold me in a transfixed state—not with tension, but with something more akin to awe and reverence.

Whether or not the Western film genre is to your liking, you may still appreciate the beauty and the power of Morricone’s music, and I encourage you to enjoy the samples of his work that can be found online. Here are two of my favorites to get you started…

“The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, conducted here by Morricone, and featuring vocalist Susanna Rigacci:

Click above to hear “The Ecstasy of Gold” (YouTube video)

And the title theme to A Fistful of Dollars, performed by The Danish National Symphony Orchestra:

Click above to hear “A Fistful of Dollars” (YouTube video)

Morricone had a unique ability to bring drama and fire to a scene, along with that haunting beauty which makes his compositions so very special. Wanderers of the desert and the plains could hope for no better composer to score the desolate majesty that surrounds them. Farewell, Maestro.

Valley Abstract

All of the digital infrared images taken during my first visit to the Buffalo Peaks Ranch have now been posted. Two years after that trip, I returned to the ranch with an assortment of long-expired rolls of 35mm film, just to see what they would do. One of those rolls—Kodak Infrared film—was as old as my car.

I wasn’t expecting much from the IR experiment, but the results were ghostly and surreal, with strange artifacts and black skies; looked as though the photos had been taken during the night. Only a few of the frames contained anything resembling a photograph. Here, you can barely make out the shadowy figure of Sarah (right below the sun) heading up the trail to the South Platte River.

South Park, Colorado
Kodak Infrared film (expired 1971)